Investigators are calling the 13-acre grass fire that broke out on Monday (March 28) in Menlo Park near Facebook "suspicious" after determining that it was caused by human action, fire officials said today.
Firefighters arrived at 3:37 p.m. at the Kavanaugh Tract, which is adjacent to Adams Drive and the Menlo Business Park.
Fire officials described the fire as unusual, and at an unusual time of year.
Investigators determined the fire started at a homeless encampment through some form of human action, according to fire officials.
Firefighters requested a second alarm at 4:03 p.m. as 20- to 25-mph winds whipped up the blaze. It quickly spread across a marshy bog and threatened to jump the four-lane University Avenue into an East Palo Alto residential neighborhood at Purdue Avenue, fire officials said.
University Avenue, which runs between the Bayfront Expressway and the Dumbarton Bridge, was closed for several hours, significantly affecting the evening commute, as crews brought the fire under control by 6 p.m.
Firefighters got help from a private photographer who flew his drone over the fire. Pictures from the drone helped fire officials adjust their tactics and deployment of firefighters and equipment to extinguish the blaze. (See the video.)
The fire district is pursuing its own drone system through the Federal Aviation Administration.